IN nonprofit wants to strengthen teachers' impact on students

An Indiana State Teacher's Association report from 2023 lists raising teacher pay, hiring additional educators and offering more mental health and behavioral support for students as some of the top issues affecting teacher retention. (Adobe Stock)

Teachers spend hours with students every day and can have the greatest impact on their decision-making and life choices. A program in one Indiana school district is working to help educators develop leadership skills inspiring students to reach their fullest potential.

The strategy of the nonprofit Teach Indy is to create a diverse, teacher-centered community focusing on teachers as problem-solvers and elevates each instructor's expertise.

Sarah Marshall, executive director of Teach Indy, said the organization now operates in the Lawrence Township School District in Marion County and there are plans for expansion.

"We are reimagining the teacher cohort as a one-year kind of cohort experience for teacher teams," Marshall explained. "The vision is that this will be at least a five-year program and will grow each year."

Marshall's vision is to potentially incorporate an Indianapolis public or charter school in order to engage teachers in a single teacher cohort. The Indiana Department of Education said there are almost 62,000 licensed teachers in the state.

Marshall pointed out Teach Indy wants to empower teachers to be at the center of innovations in education. Another critical goal is to help reduce teacher shortages in the state. She emphasized the group also believes improving teachers' overall job satisfaction will lead to better retention, in an era of burnout when many educators said they have considered leaving the profession.

"We are working to build a virtual platform that is going to connect teachers across Marion County along opportunities for engagement, networking, resource sharing, affinity spaces, etc.," Marshall outlined. "So that we can increase connection and satisfaction."

Marshall added it is important to offer what she calls an "intentional equity shift," supporting teachers of color because of the role they play in supporting students of color. One study by the Brookings Institution found for Black students, having at least one same-race teacher boosts test scores, attendance and graduation rates.

By Terri Dee, Anchor/Producer

Monday March 18, 2024